Starfleet Uniforms, Ranked

Starfleet Uniforms, Ranked
It's been a long fashion road, getting from here to there. (Screenshot: Paramount)

The arrival of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is giving us our latest imagining of the iconic original series uniform — but Star Trek is home to so many wonderful uniforms that it’s time to go where no runway has gone before, and shine a light on which ones make the cut… and which ones are best used as phaser-fodder.

18) The Motion Picture

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Now, just because these are at the bottom of the list doesn’t mean they’re actually bad — they’re just a really, really bizarre change from the wonderful technicolors of the original show. The designs themselves are actually quite interesting, they’re just let down by the flat colours across the board — everyone just looks a bit samey, whether in the beige or the grey.

17) Enterprise (Discovery)

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When Discovery first introduced a riff on the classic Trek uniform, it was actually pretty solid — a fun blend between the coloured division jackets of TOS with the jumpsuit design Discovery had already introduced as its Starfleet standard, along with the smart idea of it existing as a uniform for flagship vessels like the Enterprise. It’s mostly that time hasn’t been kind to this look, especially since Strange New Worlds has come along and done a much, much better interpretation of that classic uniform. Plus, those jacket collars just look very weird.

16) Enterprise

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A huge change from what had come before it, but one that made sense for Enterprise’s prequel setting. The blend of modern astronaut jumpsuit vibes with the subtle, but notable use of Star Trek division colours to line the shoulders is actually quite clever. It might be very different to what we expect from Trek usually, but it works.

15) Kelvin Timeline (Pre-Split)

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Kind of like the Motion Picture jumpsuits, these trade the sort of colour divides we usually expect from Trek for a more standardised look across the board. But the sea blue is definitely a better uniform look than TMP’s sea of beige, and these at least shake it up by subtly differentiating the tone of colour between the shirt and trouser portions of the design.

14) Discovery (Seasons 3 and 4)

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After jumping forward to the 31st Century, Discovery’s uniforms underwent a big change to something much more formal — gone were the blues and chrome metallic accents of the original jumpsuits, in exchange for colourful… space business suits? These definitely read more as a dress uniform variant than an actual standard uniform at times, but that’s not necessarily bad, and deciding to tweak the colours in season four instead of them being predominantly grey was the right choice.

13) The Cage

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Sure, they got a singular outing in Star Trek’s original pilot, but these are great — space sweatshirts for all! It’s a shame there wasn’t as much colour deviation in these as what we’d eventually get (and if anything, the standard beige colour feels a little like what TMP would eventually draw on), but these actually look kind of comfy, to be honest.

12) The Wrath of Khan

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Speaking of standard uniforms that look more like dress variants though! They’re very fancy, but these are great — any complaint you might have about the loss of division variants is overridden by the big bold use of red, the cut of the jacket, it all works.

11) Kelvin Timeline (Post-Split)

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What if the classic TOS uniform, just a bit more modern? These are a great update to the iconic original — there’s something almost athleisure-y about the material of the original Star Trek 2009 design, with just enough modern texture but not enough that it distracts from the pure simplicity evocative of the original design. The minor update for Beyond with a higher-collared, more tailored overshirt isn’t quite as good, but they’re overall solid updates.

10) Prodigy (Training)

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The latest animated Trek show isn’t big on uniforms as it focuses on a motley crew of alien kids, but when it came time for them to suit up in the climax of the first half of season one, these swanky Starfleet cadet uniforms were a pretty good riff on Academy wear. No division colours, sure, but there’s just enough going on in the simple black/grey design, and the cut of the shoulder coloration is evocative of several prior Trek designs in a cool way.

9) Strange New Worlds

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The third and most recent riff on the original Star Trek uniform on this list is just really, really good. Like the Kelvin movies version, this does a ton of tiny little details to give the uniforms a pop of contemporary texture while not distracting from the simple design — and the little division emblems woven into sections feels very in line with the design language established in Star Trek: Discovery. Combined with a nice, modernised riff on the original miniskirt for female officers, and this is just an all-round fabulous refresh.

8) Discovery (Seasons 1 and 2)

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These uniforms were pretty controversial at first, but for a Star Trek show that wanted to act as a transition between what we had seen from Enterprise visually to the “future” to come of the original Trek, these are a fantastic take on that more space-jumpsuit design. The blue is a lovely touch, and the metallic division coloration on the torso and upper trousers might not be the classic colours we all known and love, but it pops really well. And, once again, the devil is in the details: incredibly extra of Starfleet to make those colour blocks out of teeny-tiny Starfleet deltas.

7) Prodigy (Admiral Janeway’s Crew)

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Sure we only got a tiny look at these at the very end of Prodigy’s first batch of episodes, and they have a lot in common with the TNG-era dress uniforms, but as standard looks these work quite well — evocative of post-TOS design language and colours, smart but not overtly smart. Clearly Admiral Janeway runs a snazzy-looking ship.

6) Voyager

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Speaking of Janeway, sure technically these are the first Deep Space Nine uniforms, and the Generations uniforms, but sue me: they’re the uniforms we see throughout Voyager, and DS9 would go on to pilfer its own iconic uniform look from the TNG movies. But anyway, these rule! It’s a great evolution of the TNG-era suits, bringing up the division colours off the chest and onto the shoulders, and there’s just a little extra pop of colour with the lighter undershirt and its higher collar.

5) The Next Generation

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Whether it’s the original Spandex jumpsuit or the eventual post-season three jacketed look, TNG’s uniforms are iconic for a reason. We get the re-working of the division colours from TOS to put command in red and operations/engineering in gold, and the introduction of the uniform black to bring cohesion across the entire crew — but keeping enough division colour to feel evocative of TOS — makes this feel like a super-smart update on Star Trek uniform design a century in the making.

4) The Original Series

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You just can’t beat the originals sometimes (ignore the fact that they’re at number four; basically every uniform here is good in its own way anyway). The bright colour feels unlike anything you would’ve imagined at the time as the uniform for a starship, and yet TOS’ legacy and influence is still being felt all these decades later.

3) Picard

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Picard has actually technically had three different Starfleet uniforms — one seen briefly in flashback, one for the rest of season one, and then a third for season two’s premiere — and they’re all mostly similar enough to not be worth breaking down individually. The season one suits, both flashback and present, are nice, modern takes on the design language of the Voyager uniforms, with the flashback ones bringing more design to the shoulders, and the “present” suits bringing that design focus to the cut of the collar. Season two, meanwhile, briefly seen as it was, actually feels like a live-action riff on the next entry on this list, and very good for it…

2) Lower Decks

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It might be controversial to put these suits so high considering Lower Decks, despite being really good, still has this sort of underdog reputation simply for being animated. But I don’t care, these are fabulous suits. The appearance of the division colour all over with the piping on the boots and up to the collar is a lovely touch, and the strip of white dividing the shoulder sections and the coloured body of the jackets is a lovely little pop. These feel like a really good step between the TNG and Voyager/DS9 era uniforms, even if they technically come after.

1) Deep Space Nine

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As with the Voyager uniforms, yadda yadda yadda appeared elsewhere, yadda yadda yadda don’t care, yadda yadda yadda DS9 is the thing most associated with them. All that out of the way — these are very good uniforms.

The simple switch of bringing the division colour to the undershirt and the grey onto the shoulders is a really smart touch that feels reflective of the darker period these uniforms were introduced in: there’s something just a little more militaristic about these uniforms as the Federation heads into conflict with the Dominion, but there is just enough of a pop of colour that they feel like Star Trek uniforms still, a little bit of light in the dark. And it’s all done through one simple, minor change! Fantastic.

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